Bruni in the City: My Choice Not to Have Kids
A Column by Christina Bruni
Flouting White Middle-Class Rules About Childbirth
As a Lefty, I want to talk about a new 2018 book Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice by Rebecca Todd Peters.
My own life narrative is atypical. A woman I hired told me my story was “unusual.”
I don’t think and act like a lot of people of my race and gender. I’ve always gone Left when everyone else goes Right.
Christian social ethicist Rebecca Todd Peters asserts: “The public rhetoric that insists women must justify their abortions represents a thinly veiled racial and class bias that does two things: It attempts to impose white, middle-class values about marriage, sexual activity, and childbearing on everyone. And it focuses on individual women’s behavior while effectively obfuscating the complexity of their day-to-day lives and the viability of their various choices.”
The feminist author proposes: “Public policy ought to focus on addressing systemic social problems rather than attempting to police and control the behavior of women and their bodies.”
In her view the real issue is that women who have abortions are told they need to take responsibility. The truth is that “difficult real-life moral decisions stand in contrast” with the prevailing white, middle-class politicians’ and anti-choice crusaders’ perception that women who terminate pregnancies need to take responsibility.
Trust Women tells a different story through statistics about women’s reproductive health choices:
• 91.6 percent of abortions happen in the first trimester;
• 73 percent of women indicate they could not afford to have a baby at that point in their lives;
• 74 percent cited interference with their education or job/career or responsibility for existing children or other dependents;
• 49 percent of women who had abortions in 2014 were living below the federal poverty line;
• 95 percent of women terminating pregnancies think it was the right decision for them;
• Between 50 and 60 percent of women who have abortions were using some form of contraception the month they got pregnant; and
• 60 percent of women who have abortions already have children.
According to Rebecca Todd Peters: “Women also face a host of barriers when trying to obtain birth control: cost and lack of insurance…difficulty accessing a pharmacy…challenges in getting prescription contraception…in scheduling appointments and getting to a clinic or doctor’s office.”
These barriers were greater for women living below 200 percent of the poverty line.
My Own Story
Let’s face it, doesn’t every woman out there have hard-luck romance stories under our Hermes-H or other belt?
One of the psychics I went to told me: “Love’s been up and down and all around for you. It’s been to the dogs.”
This waterfront fortune teller told me I’d meet a lot of turkeys along the way. Yes, she used the word turkeys to talk about the guys I’d meet.
Taken in this context I haven’t been so quick to drop my skirt to get into bed with just any guy that walked on by in my life.
As a woman with a mental health diagnosis, I didn’t want to get married and raise a family.
Yes—I’ve known without a doubt since I was 15 or 16 that I didn’t want to have kids—not even one kid.
This stance of mine doesn’t fit into the white middle-class heterosexual norm that prevails in American society.
It’s this world that I was born into that I so intuitively rejected as not being the right lifestyle for me to live.
Leading yet again to how I championed everything Left of the Dial in my memoir.
I still haven’t found Mr. Right nor have I found Mr. Almost Right either. And I definitely haven’t found Mr. Not-Right-Yet-I’ll-Take-Him-Anyway.
In this dry climate with no prospects does it make sense to risk getting pregnant by having sex just to prove you’re a normal woman?
This is the double-bind or double-standard women are held to:
If we’re not having sex we’re viewed as being screwed-up and that there’s something wrong with us.
If we’re having sex and, heaven help us, too much sex, we’re viewed as having a lack of morals.
What Do You Say?
Isn’t it time to give the boot to restrictive regressive political policies that make it harder and harder for women to remain child-free by choice?
Isn’t it time to stop judging women for the choices we make?
Isn’t it time to accept the multitude of expressions of what is “normal” in society?
I for one have failed at living a mainstream life.
I have failed to please the people who stand in judgment of me even though they haven’t met me.
I have failed to see the logic in overpopulating the planet.
More to the point: not only did I not want to have a kid: I didn’t want to go through the experience of being pregnant.
Pullout: “One of the psychics I went to told me: ‘Love’s been up and down and all around for you. It’s been to the dogs.’”